VW Promises to Lead on Hybrids and Electric Cars

Hybrid Jetta Planned for 2012

After years of arguing that clean diesel is a better efficiency strategy compared to hybrids, Volkswagen is switching gears. In a statement issued on the eve of the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, Martin Winterkorn, VW chairman of the board, said, “We will take the hybrid out of its niche status with our high-volume models. In the future, the heart of the brand will also beat with electricity.”

VW’s Electric-Drive Roll Out

  • A hybrid version of the Jetta will be offered in the US in 2012
  • In August 2013, the Passat Hybrid will be introduced, followed by a Golf Hybrid two months later
  • Starting in 2013, VW will begin rolling out pure electric cars, starting with the e-up! minicar, followed by an all-electric Golf, and other electric vehicles yet to be named
  • VW’s luxury brand Audi will also launch hybrids, beginning with an Audi Q5 Hybrid in early 2011, and a limited introduction of the electric e-tron in 2012

The Volkswagen press release states: “Starting in 2013, the high-volume Golf and Jetta models of the Volkswagen brand are expected to dominate the hybrid and electric vehicle market.”

The Eight-Year Goal

While Winterkorn’s announcements might impress future consumers interested in fuel efficiency, the VW Touareg Hybrid—its first hybrid offering, due in fall 2010—is likely to disappoint. Last month, Volkswagen unveiled a lighter leaner Touareg design, including a hybrid variant, ahead of the Geneva show. The Touareg indicates a move in the right direction, replacing the previous V8 gas-powered SUV with a lighter-weight version using a gas-electric six-cylinder powertrain with direct injection. The performance, size and towing capacity are impressive, but the expected fuel economy in the mid-20-mpg range, will fall in the middle of the Hybrid SUV pack.

“The goal is to become the market leader in E-mobility by the year 2018,” said Martin Winterkorn. His goal is to make electric vehicle’s three percent of VW sales by 2018—a target which is surpassed only by Nissan which claims that electric cars will be 10 percent of the global auto market share by 2020.

The year 2018 is also when VW hopes to overtake Toyota to become the largest automaker in the world.

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  • Dom

    Only because Americans have stuck in their heads that hybird=green and diesel=dirty. I much prefer their diesel offerings to any hybrid. Besides, comparing the new Touareg hybrid vs. the new V6 TDI, the TDI is actually the more fuel efficient model:


    It will be interesting to see the sales figures of gasoline only vs. hybrid (or electric) vs. diesel for each model…

  • Old Man Crowder

    My guess is that VW stuck with diesel for so long, hoping somebody, ANYBODY else would join them. If that happened, then VW would be the heroes. A big fish in a small pond.

    But since nobody jumped on that bandwagon, they’ve decided they better join the hybrid wagon before it leaves VW standing in the dust.

  • jayzee

    Be the leader, keep dreaming WV. By the time first VW hybrids come out others would be far far away.

    BTW what are you (VW) going to do about your clean diesel website (smear campaign) against hybrids! Bet you learnt the hard way how difficult it is to fool todays consumer. 🙂

  • Fall off a log obvious

    Looking forward to those diesel hybrids.

    Peanut butter AND chocolate.

  • Dom

    Actually jayzee, today’s consumers are apparently still easy to fool, and hybrids vs. diesel is a good example. Americans have been brainwashed by the media to believe that hybrids are THE green technology, period. Never mind the other good alternatives. Look at Europe and you’ll see hybrids have fail to really catch on because they already have something just as good, if not better. But since hybrids are the popular “green” image, everybody has to have them in their product lineup now, or they’re not “green”. But I guess now VW will have a Jetta to sell to everybody. Gasoline only for the traditional buyers, hybrid for the city-dwellers and environmentalists, and diesel for the highway drivers and those that just like the diesel characteristics. It’ll be interesting to be sure.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Since we seem to love treading over old ground: Let me remind people that hybrids are a step toward sustainable transportation because part of their propulsion can be sustainably generated using wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, or other renewable means.
    Diesels just aren’t quite as bad as gasoline but they still require petroleum unless we want to burn our food instead of eating it. Granted, there may be sustainable means of bio-diesel production but we don’t know how to do it yet.
    I, for one see today’s hybrids as a lame baby-step that keeps the ICE and transportation manufacturers in business a little longer. The sustainable solution hybrids lean toward is the Plug-In vehicle (hybrid or pure electric).
    All the technology necessary for electric vehicles exists today, its just that the big automakers don’t want to build them.

  • jayzee

    Dom, it seems you are a victim of VWs desperate misinformation campaign. If you look at my original post I never said modern diesels are bad, in fact I believe they do have a good value proposition. However, even the very new TDIs fall far short of emission and consumption figures of the new Prius, yes I mean real world figures. BTW pls. don’t compare VW polo to a Prius; the Prius is far bigger and far too refined for that.

    Actually, the Europeans are too self obsessed to realize the world is moving forward rapidly. And it’s a pity most European manufacturers have failed to realise Hybrid Technology is not really an alternative to pure gasoline engines, but rather, the next step or progression towards the “pure electric dream”. Those who think they can suddenly jump into the Hybrid Plug-In market and sell their cars are pure dreamers.

    BTW, VW have become a laughing stock after years of high profile promotions against Hybrid Technology, now it seems they are (trying) to make some themselves. Maybe they should hire Jeremy Clarkson when he retires (pretty soon I imagine), I am sure someone can find value in his worthless words of wisdom.

  • Dom


    I wouldn’t consider myself a victim at all. I found out about TDIs without ever seeing a VW commerical. Why would I want a Prius that I would have to drive like grandma to get its EPA rating when I can drive my Golf TDI with a bit of spirit and still get the EPA ratings? Oh, and on the weekends I can hookup a 1500lbs camper to it and still get 27mpg. THAT is why I drive a diesel.

    You really can’t base your idea of modern diesels to the very limited choices we have here in the US. We get a 140HP TDI that is overkill for the cars it’s in because Americans think a 90HP engine is too small, nevermind the torque figure.

    Europeans CAN buy a Prius, but there are so many cars over there that meet or beat it at fuel economy and emissions that a Prius is no big deal.

  • Dom

    “Hybrid Technology is not really an alternative to pure gasoline engines, but rather, the next step or progression towards the “pure electric dream”.”

    While I realize this is a hybrid cars site, I just have to point out that this “pure electric dream” is beginning to feel like it’s being crammed down our collective throats. It’s not everybody’s dream. Sure electric cars may someday be a good alternative, but maybe they won’t. Somebody may discover a way to make cheap biofuel out of non-food stock and we’ll end up running on synthetic gasoline instead of electric. I’d prefer to keep my options open, and it seems to me that this is what VW is doing with hybirds and TDIs… keeping their options open.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    “. . . it’s being crammed down our collective throats”
    You’re on to me 😉
    Actually, I don’t want to cram anything down anyone’s throat. I would love to be able to show you that the electric vehicle is viable TODAY with existing renewable energy (as well as any form of non-renewable energy). It doesn’t require waiting for some unobtanium to be found to run it on.
    The problem is that the option of an electric car that most people can afford isn’t even out there. The ICE industry continues to ensure that anything with an electric motor used to do anything except start the ICE is a pathetic joke (appologies to the hybrid lovers here). You can at least drive a diesel if you want, without breaking your bank.
    I had a pure electric, high performance car that wasn’t crammed down my throat. They didn’t even advertise it (nor did they advertise hybrids until recently when someone realized that the were all the people really wanted).
    My electric car was made by a large American government owned ICE company that has sold millions of ICE vehicles and continues to try to do so today although sales aren’t so great (sorry AP). It was taken from me with threats of harm (court ordered fines) if I didn’t give it back. Two friends of mine were actually arrested for blocking a transport truck that was taking some of these cars off to the desert where they were being crushed. More friends of mine were stopped by the AZ highway patrol for trying to follow other trucks full of these cars to allow the transport trucks to get away. Another friend rented a helicopter and took pictures of the cars being crushed near Yuma AZ.
    Now, which is being crammed down our throats?

  • AP

    ex-EV1 driver, I hate to sound like a broken record, but if the electric car were viable, GM (where I work) would make nothing else. GM is in business to make money(and now we actually are, so I hear), not necessarily ICE’s .

    There is no vested interest in preserving a technology that is inferior, as you say ICE’s are. We are currently tooling up to make our own electric motors, and if everyone could afford electric cars, we would convert all our plants to making them, or go out of business.

    The reason we make ICE-powered vehicles, like everyone else does, is because electric vehicles are too expensive to make it back on today’s operating costs. It’s that simple.

    Well, not quite that simple. ICE vehicles can also be refueled in less than 5 minutes, so they are ideal for the road trips that many Americans like to take.

    I’ve been watching automotive technology for 30 years (and researched it much further back), and I’ve learned two things well:

    1) Just because something is technically possible, that doesn’t mean it’s economically viable or sensible.
    2) Having a favorite technology is more of a political stance than a practical one. You tend to see its advantages and ignore the disadvantages.

    The dangers of promoting a certain technology were borne out in the case of the EV1. It’s no wonder you liked your car: you got to drive it for $400/month, and it cost us $1 million to make (we spent $1 billion to make 1,000 cars). California “crammed electric cars down the carmakers’ throats,” essentially blackmailing us by saying if we didn’t make these cars (10% of sales), we couldn’t sell any cars in California.

    GM was the only carmaker to take this mandate seriously, making a sleek, aerodynamic, light car to squeeze the most range from the electric battery’s limited energy. This took a very expensive aluminum body/chassis to accomplish.

    We were rewarded for our efforts by
    1) having the mandates weakened and dropped, so that
    2) manufacturers who ignored the mandates were not penalized,
    3) being remembered as somehow “killing the electric car.”

    I know you’ll probably never forgive GM for taking your car back, but at some point, you need to realize that it was California that produced the situation, and that GM was the reluctant messenger.

    When governments legislate technology instead of results, it puts us in a very awkward position. If we speak against the stupid legislation, it’s possible that the same irrational legislators will tighten the screws. We also risk being called naysayers and conspirators. When it’s impossible to speak the truth, we need to resort to other excuse to justify taking unprofitable lease-vehicles back (as happened in your case).

    It was a no-win situation for GM.

    Don’t blame GM. Blame the California legislature. THEY (and economics) killed the electric car.

  • jayzee

    Dom, I AM based in europe and I have driven most of the new generation TDIs. The only Golf that can even come close to the prius figures is the Ecomotive, but thats got no puch at all. With the new prius you don’t need to drive carefully to get good milage. The worst thing about diesels is the coarse engine, I really hate to arrive sounding like a tractor. Even the smoothest diesel I have driven, the latest BMW 320d still feels very noisy and far unrefined

  • jayzee

    >>”Hybrid Technology is not really an alternative to pure gasoline >>engines, but rather, the next step or progression towards >>the “pure electric dream”.”

    I do realise not all of us are happy to drive an all-electric car so pls. excuse me, I never meant to imply we all have similar expectations for the future.

    I think the key word is Value Proposition – we all share a set of common expectations, add to that our individual preferences, that makes up our individual Value Proposition. As gas prices go up, it is fair to say that there is a common value in switching to electricity(The problem of clean, sustainable, power generation is being solved effectively as we speak). However, until we see battery charge points in every fuel station and ultra-fast charge technology, we will also need a backup gas power source in car. I see current hybrid tech right on this roadmap. Production Plug-in hybrids & diesel hybrids are the next goal posts also in this long roadmap.

    The problem with VW is that they have been very critical of Hybrid Technology for so long that after this announcement, have no credibility left. We all know that in science, we never dismiss ideas unless proven otherwise so it was very short sighted of VW not to have seen this coming. And to claim VW intend to lead the hybrid market, surely that is utter nonsense!

  • juxtapos99

    I don’t see why they were so reluctant with diesel hybrids. It’s not like efficiency in stop-and-go traffic for a diesel is superb.

  • B

    Actually, the Euro market is switching and they are the fastest growing hybrid market now.
    Diesel’s are to expensive to fix over there where hybrids have proven themselves to be more reliable as well as not as expensive.
    As far as cars that beat it at fuel economy, those are smaller cars that beat it, and emissions uhh no, not even close. No diesel has less tailpipe emissions then a hybrid.
    Hybrids is where we are going, not diesel. Even vw has realized that now.

  • Johnny

    They are gas-eletric not diesel.
    vw has said many times they won’t be building diesel hybrids for a LONG time

  • Jay

    not only is the production of the electric car not viable financially to the automotive industry at this time what about the infrastructure that needs to be in place?

    How much money do you think it will cost to build all those new ‘refueling stations’ and also what kind of power plant is making the energy for those refueling stations??

    Its is not as easy as saying lets make an electric car.

  • John S.

    I’m going to sell my catering company this year to buy this car 🙂 Very powerful and robust.

  • Cheapest High PR Backlinks

    BTW what are you (VW) going to do about your clean diesel website (smear campaign) against hybrids! Bet you learnt the hard way how difficult it is to fool todays consumer. 🙂